Karen Archey interviewed by Barbara Clausen and Glenn Wharton, April 22, 2020
Karen Archey is an American art critic and the curator of contemporary art for time-based Media at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam. Archey also coordinates the Stedelijk’s performance program and heads the museum’s research initiative on the conservation, acquisition, and exhibition of time-based media.
- “Karen Archey interviewed by Barbara Clausen and Glenn Wharton, April 22, 2020 (Interview Transcript).” Joan Jonas Knowledge Base, Artist Archives Initiative, 2021.
The interview begins with Archey discussing how she got to know Jonas and her work during her time in university at the Art Institute of Chicago, then seeing Jonas’s work presented at the Venice Biennale American Pavilion in 2015 [00:09–04:53]. From here, Archey talks about working with Jonas for the first time on a performance scheduled for November 2020, which will be an adaptation of Moving Off the Land [04:54–6:05]. Archey then speaks on the long history Jonas has with the Stedelijk, specifically her large exhibition in 1994, and how it has impacted Archey today as a time-based media curator [6:06–11:32]. Moving on, Wharton mentions that it is common for curators to study Jonas’s work for a number of years through archives before working with her and her art. He asks Archey if her approach has been the same, specifically when the Stedelijk acquired Organic Honey, and how Jonas was involved in the process [11:40–16:00]. Switching gears to documentation, Archey is asked to share her thoughts on a better process of documenting and how to access that information [16:03–19:01]. Archey also mentions a report prepared by Sandra Weerdenburg and Rebecca Timmermans, two conservators at the Stedelijk, that raises questions regarding documenting Organic Honey and what the piece is if Jonas isn’t there to actually put it up [19:02–21:34]. Next, Archey talks about other works by Jonas related to Organic Honey that the Stedelijk has acquired, such as single channel videos [21:37–22:43]. This turns into a conversation about exhibiting these works on loan and what kind of requirements she and the Stedelijk have to loan works to other museums [22:45–26:25]. Archey then shares her personal viewpoint on the importance of documentation and types of documentation for multimedia works and interdisciplinary works, such as those of Jonas [26:26–28:25]. Looking towards the future of Organic Honey, Archey voices some of her concerns in terms of conservation, documentation, and exhibiting the piece. Archey believes that her major concerns are practical, mainly thinking about the small elements in the piece that could easily be stolen [28:29–34:34:19]. The interview ends with Archey describing Jonas’s personality and what it is like to work with her [34:21–36:37].